“It helps me to speak, although I hate speaking. My classes help me very much too. I have learned more theology in three months of teaching than in four years of studying. But talking also helps my prayer–at least in the sense that it inviscerates the mysteries of faith more deeply into my soul. It is very important to live your faith by confessing it, and one of the best ways to confess it is to preach it.”
“Nothing of the mystery realm is revealed in its truth to the one who has not first fine-tuned their conduct. For the path to mystery wisdom is blanketed with snake spirits who watch to see who is walking up that road to acquire holiness. This is not unlike thorns that watch over the path leading to the rose. And these snake spirits will not permit passage to those who are not worthy.
Not everyone is worthy of approaching the mysteries of Torah, which requires battling with whatever wrongness lingers within us. Only then — after one has worked strenuously on one’s character — can one achieve the fullness of the wisdom and gift of true wholeness. You should not think that anyone who wishes to leap into the mystery realms can simply do so, and that you can know the wisdom of the unknown without mastering first the wisdom of the known. So many of us simply want to jump into the mystery realm without working on ourselves first, wanting to skip the basic wisdom and discipline and immediately study Kabbalah. Of such it is written: “Woe onto the one who builds his house void of balance; and his upper chambers without good judgment” (Jeremiah 22:13).
Rather, you must enter this realm of study in its proper sequence: first through the courtyard, then into the house, then to the upper chambers, and then within the chambers of chambers. But if you wish to jump ahead of the cycles and leap straight into the chamber within chambers of the upper realms without cleansing what is unwholesome within you and without removing the impediments that block your inner vision‚ know that you will taste the flaming swords of the Cherubim who are assigned to guard the path to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). After all, who can taste the nut without first breaking off the shell?”
–From Hakdahmaht Chemdat Tzvee ahl Teekoonay Zohar: translated by Gershon Winkler
“Those who seek to enter the Orchard should know that it is a very harmful, dangerous space to visit. Therefore, first make certain that in your daily life you pursue peace and harmony in all of your relationships; that you do not create an atmosphere of terror in your home; that you do not be too demanding and exacting in your relating with members of your family, not concerning even a major issue, and certainly not a minor one; and God forbid do not flare up in rage at them. And do not ever chastise your children with anger.
Also steer clear of conceit and self-aggrandizing behavior, especially when it comes to doing the sacred work. For it is in the course of performing the sacred work that we become most prone to conceit and feelings of superiority. And when you make love to your partner first prepare your mind and heart so that you do not make love solely for your own pleasure to the neglect of the needs of your partner. And at night when you go to sleep, liberate your mind from all the tumult of your thoughts and concerns of this world, so that your soul can ascend with ease to the upper worlds and be clear enough to receive the continuous flux of divine wisdom that emanates from there. Finally, as you seek to learn how to enter the Orchard, seek also to learn how to leave the Orchard and return. For the mystery lies not only in the entering, but as much in the leaving.”
–From the 16th-century Rabbi Chayyim Vital in his introduction to Etz Chayyim, toward the end
The spirit of the human being loves purity, but his mind disturbs it. His reason loves the silence but his desires drive it away. If he were able always to neutralise his desires, his mind would naturally become pure. The six desires (those of the five senses and the imagination) would not develop and the three poisons (greed, anger and stupidity) would be taken away and disappear.
The reason why people are unable to achieve this is that their minds are not purified and their desires are not neutralised. If someone is able to neutralise his desires and looks at his reason, these desires are no longer his; if he looks down at his body, it is no longer his; if he looks further away to the outward things, they are things that do not concern him.
When he understands these three things, they will appear only a void to him. This beholding of the void will awaken the idea of nothingness. Without such nothingness, there is no void. When the idea of empty space has disappeared, also that of nothingness will disappear, and when the idea of nothingness has disappeared, then, clearly, the state of permanent silence will follow. In that state of rest and independent of place, how would desire be able to develop? And if desire no longer develops, there is true silence and rest. This true silence becomes a permanent property, and in this state, everything is comprehended as to its essence; yes, this true and permanent property becomes the ruler of human nature. In such a continuous representation and permanent silence, there is permanent purity and rest.
He who has this absolute purity, will gradually come into the true Dao. And once he has arrived there, he will be called master of Dao. Although he is called master of Dao, he does not really think that he has become master of anything. Because he is accomplishing the transformation of all things, he is called master of Dao. He who is able to understand this, is also able to pass on the holy Dao to others.
— ‘Book of Purity’ by Ko Juan (AD 222-272)
“But I made answer unto them; O ye Fishers, who lap up your filth, no fisher am I who fishes for fish, and I was not formed for an eater of filth (non vegan). A fisher am I of souls who bear witness to Life”